Is War Really a Racket?Submitted by CrimsonTider904 on Sat, 08/09/2014 - 12:50
Please imagine that one day, looking out your window, you note that a construction crew is building a brick wall around a neighbor’s house across the street and down the way. On subsequent days you note further progress and become perplexed over what your neighbor’s motivation might be. The wall is high and unpleasant looking. It surrounds the home, but for a few meters in the front. You become irritated at this unsightly mess and the damaging effect it has on the aesthetics of the neighborhood.
A few days later you see another construction crew at another home three doors down. They to are beginning the construction of a wall, identical in appearance. You also note with alarm that the few remaining unobstructed meters in front of the initial home are now being sealed shut, brick on top of brick, until finally that house is completely enclosed. There is no entry or exit.
The second wall is now well on the way to completion. Additionally, to your dismay, a third crew arrives and begins the construction of a wall around your next door neighbor’s home, as well as a fourth crew beginning work directly across the street.
One by one the walls rise. One by one the final open spaces are enclosed, until finally, several homes are completely obstructed from view. Foreboding brick enclosures surround half the homes in the neighborhood.
One day, the doorbell rings. You answer and see an obviously distraught neighbor. He points out to you what you have already observed; that most of the homes in the neighborhood have been enclosed. He notes that your home is now enclosed on both sides and the rear, and that only the front is unobstructed. You walk out to survey your property, and with relief, note that, while you’re view is obstructed to the rear and on both sides, there is no construction actually going on within your property lines. You dismiss your neighbor and return to your home.
Finally, one day, you awaken shocked to find that another construction crew is on your lawn, busily erecting a wall across the front of your property. There are several of these big, burley bricklayers, laughing and talking and laying brick on top of brick. You consider your options and with deep regret and resignation, conclude that there really are no remaining options. No neighbors remain with whom you might collaborate on a response. All homes are enclosed. The workmen out front are oblivious to your protestations and you have no doubt, they would surely make quick work of you were you to try and defend the last ever narrower opening. You retreat to your home.
Sitting in your living room, as you observe a shrinking sunlight creeping across the curtains, you contemplate what went wrong. You have always taken pride in being a person slow to involve yourself in the business of others. You believe in tending to your own life and letting others do the same. You abhor violence and avoid the passion of crowds. You are fundamentally peaceful. But sadly, as the last light fades, and room grows dark and gloomy on this sunny summer day, you realize that all these commendable attributes have, together, lead to your demise.
Perhaps it would have been better had you been more involved in the lives of those around you. Maybe if you had called the first victim, you would have understood and empathized with his plight. Then you could have met with other neighbors and organized a response. But no … you valued privacy too much for such course of action. While you support your neighbors’ right to act, you are not responsible for any consequence that may follow from their failure to do so. Further, you did not want neighbors popping up on your doorstep, involving you in their problems, asking for favors, and generally breaking your contentment. You did not want to be entangled in their messes.
Perhaps you should have gone to the gym more often, or taken a karate class.
Then you could have dispatched that final work crew. But this would have been a de facto endorsement of aggression. It would have cost time and money, and such a preoccupation could possibly have lead to a state of mind that encouraged you to deal with situations by less than peaceful means. No! You are a peaceful man. Non-violence is your credo. And it is on that philosophy that you chose to dwell.
The thought occurs to you that you have been inflexible, weak and unprepared. But you quickly discount that notion. The world should be non-violent. The world should respect your right to life and property and freedom of movement. It is not your fault that the world will not cooperate. None of this is your fault. And besides, all this thought about what you should have done and when, or with whom you should have collaborated and how is just too difficult. It is much easier just to believe in peace.
All that matters is that you have been a good man … a non violent man, a consistent man, and that none of the hell outside that window is of your doing.
We have to realize that there are unfortunate gray areas. Despite all the justifiable reasons we have for mistrusting government, we have to remain vigilant to the world around us and accepting of the fact that there are real enemies both external and internal. We have to understand that it is legitimate for a government to serve as the eyes and ears of its people in a dangerous world. We have to understand that threats are sometimes incremental in nature, and if left unattended, can become impossible to deal with. While we cannot react too soon, or for dubious reasons, we also cannot respond too late or be paralyzed by adherence of a too rigid doctrine of self-defense. We have to remain strong enough to ensure our survival and cannot demonize the notion of legitimate self-defense. Finally, we have to consider the long-term consequence of allowing rampant genocide to prevail, primarily because if we completely discount the importance of the lives of others throughout the world, it is hard to imagine how we will, over the long haul, continue to respect the rights of one another here at home.
I think it is both possible and justifiable to react with extreme skepticism to any argument for military action or assistance, without living in total denial as to how the world really is and the fact that manageable threats can become unmanageable.
I also acknowledge that the presence of tyranny here at home greatly raises the bar on foreign intervention. After all, why seek far way enemies, when the more dangerous ones are so close by.
I further acknowledge that in the short term it is much easier and safer to commit to the idea that "war is bad" . This prevents one from being decieved by a basically evil government. Unfortunately, we have to evaluate crisis on a case by case basis. As tempting as it may be, we cannot cling to platitudes in place of reason. They may may cry wolf 9 times. But we still must scrutinize the 10th.
If there is an overriding point to all this, it is that we should craft a message that stresses the undesirability of war and foreign meddling, while at the same time, acknowledging that war is sometimes necessary as a last resort. It is better to point out the fallacies of certain past wars and the wastefulness of most foreign aid, than to rely on blanket assertions for the future that offend or scare many whom we are trying to reach…and can reach.
Is war always a racket? Usually yes it is, but not always. Best we remember that.